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Brands and $$$

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by kemmer, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. kemmer

    kemmer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 608

    Im here looking a lights and wondering why there is such a large price gap between some brands.

    im not looking for cast stuff, or brass. just nice looking powder coated stuff, half the time the wells and the spots you never even see because they are so hidden by plant material.

    starting with well lights. black pvc tube, par 36 bulb, holder., not much
    Kitchler $50! ridiculous!

    here same thing. but with brass holder $12.99!!!!

    path lights- kitchler is $52

    and then you have the no name, same aluminum, powder coated $12.50
  2. RLI Electric

    RLI Electric LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 381

    Quality of materials and maybe some marketing. Everyone has heard of Kichler just like everyone has heard of MonsterCable. Is it the best? You decide on that, nuff said there. As far as the materials go, all different grades of aluminum. Some are great some aren't. Powder coating, some may be well done, others may be one coat. Think of a paint job. Ben Moore Aura is more expensive than Behr. Sorry to use so many name brand names. The reality is that there are fixtures I have seen that may be $400.00 per fixture. Is it overpriced. The answer is more often than not, no. I was a machinist before I became an electrician so when I hold a fixture I see a difference. How many setups on a lathe or a milling machine. That and the material is where the money is. You more often than not,get what you pay for.
  3. niteliters

    niteliters LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 537

    didn't get into the path light but you have to look at the details, $12.99 is the carrot, the lamp is $11.99, the shipping is a few more bringing total for one fixture at your door to around $33.00. If you are a contractor you can visit your local Kichler distributor and probably get a lower price than what's listed on the internet thereby bringing the cost much closer together. Say you are still $10 more for the Kichler fixture. why? you have to look at construction, servicability, and manufacturer, distributor support. Not sure on the construction of less expensive model but I would say that the less expensive one might be more difficult to service and if you had an issue it would be better to have a local distributor backed by a reputable manufacturer backing you up. If, for example you were going to use 10 well lights on a job, I think it would be well worth the extra $100 for a known company with a distributor u can develop a relationship with. We have been in this industry for 14years, relationships are valuable.
  4. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    you make a good case to save money, but here's an education from my 25 plus years of lighting experience-

    not meant to offend, but most guys here don't install the powder coated "stuff". I have on request for a certain client or two used FX powder coated copper. but not aluminum. it just does not hold it's finish, or last much more than 5-6 years tops. copper and brass, whether cast or raw, is more the norm among pro's, but brass or copper does not necessarily indicate quality, but the material itself does tend toward longevity. the light life cycle will be determined by the socket, o-rings, lens/adhesive, and the general sturdyness/weight of the fixture and its nuts and bolts. a very good mr-16 spot should last 20 plus years in the field with only once yearly maintenance including: bulb change, greasing o-ring, cleaning lenses, re-aiming and cutting back foliage. you just have to pay for that quality.

    the par 36 cans you referred to were very common and I installed hundreds 10 and 15 years ago. not too many in the last 10 though. those have been replaced by mr-16 fixtures. there is no real quality difference between the pastic cans, but the mechanism for holding and aiming the par 36 bulb varies greatly in quality, and further the nicer cans have grates to minimize the clogging issues. cheaper cans have cheaper bulb holding mechanisms that break after 3-5 bulb changeouts. also, The par 36 bulb for the most part just does not last a year like a quality mr-16 will. but the major weakness of the par 36 open fixture is the connection. a spade connection is done by most by just crimping it and moving on. even when using heat shrink connectors or tubing, those tend to fail around the 7-12 year mark. water just eventually weeps itself into the wire with the many bulb changes that come with the par 36. if you don't catch it, the corrosion will eat through to your home run like wild fire.

    A great quality pathlight just costs more money. you can install aluminum, but the heat from the bulb will start doing funny things with the hat finish, and the sockets on most are open, not enclosed, and tend to be cheap in quality that start to fail around year 3 and most are done by year 8 or so. When you spend a little more, you get a pathlight with a bulb that is enclosed in a water resistant glass case, o-rings sealing that glass to the base, and the hat is designed to hide the source and spread the light. you need to get heavy copper or brass, and the finish just darkens with age and blends with the landscape. The heavyness will allow it to handle the falls from people and getting hit and bumped by landscape maintenance and install folks over the years.

    I have learned all this the hard way, by installing less expensive items here and there over the past 25 years and having to replace it and repair it. I still test things here and there to try to save money, but in the end, I continue to believe you get what you pay for.

    The bottom line is you can install a cheaper fixture that lasts 3-8 years, or, if you choose to do business with folks for the long term, choose fixtures that last 20 years plus.

    good luck !
  5. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Besides all of the quality and longevity discussions regarding different fixtures and components there are some bottom line considerations.

    1: You make more money selling and installing top quality components.

    2: Service, maintenance and repairs are minimized when you install top quality components. (Client's are happier when their systems do not need constant repair and maintenance)

    3: Some clients only want the best.

    4: "there are two types of people out there.... those who want the most bang for the buck and those who want to spend a lot of bucks" direct quote from a client of mine years ago when "convincing" me to install only specification grade components.

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